For countless generations, the people of a small cerulean sphere called Earth stared up at the sky, and they wondered. They wondered if one day they could touch those stars. They wondered if those stars had planets around them, like theirs did. They wondered if those planets had life, or if they were all alone in this infinite blackness we call the universe.

Now, Earth isn't around. But those people, the ones called humans? Even a hundred years after their planet bit the dust, they're everywhere.

A small blue ship slowly drifted through an asteroid belt. It was an Otorian vessel, a consumer ship equipped with the basic necessities any spacefarer would need. A bathroom, a kitchen, a bedroom. It's bullet-shaped, wide-winged design was a common sight throughout Otor-controlled space - the high-powered laser cannons and plasma casters that had been modded onto it's exterior… weren't.

Trip yawned, stretching his legs out onto the control panel, stirring his bowl of cereal aimlessly, and watching the asteroids float around through the control console's wide glass viewport. His curly red hair was a mess, and he had on little more than a black wifebeater and boxers. Idly, he checked his bank account and frowned at the low number; a lousy four hundred and three Otorian dollars.

One million. That was his goal, if he wanted to bail his space pirate sister out of prison. Normally, he would just go into the place guns blazing, but she was stationed at a supermax security place with a small army on the premises at all times. So he'd have to do it the honest way. And that meant getting one million freakin' bucks. As it was currently… he had a long way to go.

Suddenly, he heard someone clear their throat. Looking down, he saw a small, blue, holographic girl staring up at him from his console. Her arms were crossed, and her face was scrunched up in a pout. Even though her eyes were pupiless and white, Trip could tell she was staring him down.

"Trip. It's twelve thirty." she said sternly.

The kid averted his eyes as he spooned some cereal in his mouth. "And?"

"And you haven't done anything!"

Trip stood up, snorted, and walked to the kitchen. Leaning up on the counter, he continued to eat his late breakfast. "It's Saturday, Hestia. That's my off day. Chill out."

"No it isn't." From another holographic display bulb located in the kitchen, Hestia popped up, appearing right in front of Trip with a calendar in her hands. "It's Wednesday." she tapped at the date.

Trip dumped his bowl in the sink, groaning. "Alright, alright, let me get some pants on… shoulda' hijacked a different ship..." he turned the tap on, washing the milk down the drain.

"What was that?" even though he was facing away from her, Trip felt he could pretty confidently guess that his AI assistant was giving him the evil eye.

"Oh, nothing, nothing…" As he began to get ready, he looked over at Hestia. "Run a search for all jobs within one warp jump." that was all they had the juice for, he thought.

He pulled on some clothes - loose grey pants, a belt, some boots, a blue jacket - while Hestia was busy running the scan. Trip was busy buttoning up when she had finished.

"Alright, there's two thousand, three hundred, and forty nine missions available… well, within your skill set that is." she had switched it so that instead of coming from her holographic avatar, her voice was casted throughout the whole ship.

Trip stood up, putting on his belt. "Filter for 'requires death-defying action,' please."

"There's twenty four of those." Hestia listed them off as Trip walked over to a dog bed in the corner of the ship. A big bundle of blankets was inside, a smooth, grey tail poking out. Nudging it with his foot, he could feel his pet begin to stir. "Some kind of irradiated ant invasion on Zetacron, there's a malfunctioning turret robot massacring villages on Memolor…"

"Uhh…" Trip scratched his chin as he searched for his pistol. The ant thing sounded cool, but he doubted it would give him much money. "Which pays the highest?"

"There's one that pays a pretty hefty sum… but I don't think you'd enjoy it."

"Interesting." The eighteen year old found his gun, spun it around his finger, and holstered it. "Give me some details."

"I'm telling you, you wont like it."

"Just tell me what it is, lady." he slumped into his seat at the control panel, camera feeds flashing up over the viewport and Hestia's holographic avatar appearing as well. Trip leaned in. It was a mess of explosions and laser blasts; scrappy-looking starfighters letting loose on the impressive energy shields of a vast, silver ship. In the distance Trip spotted a capital ship that seemed to be the starfighters' home. It was pretty small for a capital ship, and it was marked with the characteristic black symbols and graffiti that usually decorated a space pirate's vessel.

"Space pirates, attacking a Silverguard transport vessel." at the mere mention of the Silverguard, Trip pretended to gag. Hestia rolled her eyes, best she could without pupils. "Serious danger, the last starfighters have just been picked off-"

"God, I hate those self-righteous pricks… and that's pretty big for a transport ship, huh..." he shook his head, interrupting his assistant. The Silverguard were a group he was familiar with, self-appointed defenders of justice who kept a strict doctrine. It was them who were responsible for putting his sister behind bars. They made him so angry...

He dispelled those thoughts, trying to focus on what was important. "Whatever, just, how much does it pay?" Trip started to tap at his keyboard. Cycling through the various camera views gave him a few clues as to what had happened. It was near the Sanada system. The ship had been on a short trip, probably to a nearby warp ring… that must be why the starfighter support had been so light. Ambushed at a bad time.

"Eighteen hundred thousand Otorian dollars."

Trip's eyes opened so wide they nearly fell out of his skull. He moved his attention to the holographic avatar Hestia had created, which stood on the control console. "That's… is that a lot?"

"Yes, it's a lot."

"That's a lot." he said. The boy leaned back, fingertips pressed together. "That's a lot, wow."

There was a short pause.

"Well, what are you waiting for, Hestia?!" Trip flicked at the hologram, briefly turning her into a staticy blur. "Initiate the jump, come on, come on!"

In a flash of light, the blue ship appeared at the scene. "Hestia, request access to their communication channels." Trip began to ready the ship's weapon systems just as some of the pirate starfighters began to take notice of the new arrival.

"On it."

A new voice came over the speakers, thickly accented and feminine. "Access granted, Blue Bullet."

Trip leaned in close to Hestia. "She's got a cute voice." he whispered.

Hestia sighed. "Oh, shut up, Trip…" she patched into the comm channel. "Hello! Hestia of the Blue Bullet speaking."

"Rhonda of the Silverguard." her voice was commanding. Trip tried to picture the face behind it. She was probably pretty. "You're responding to our distress signal?"

"That's the idea." Trip said, sliding over to a set of complicated gun controls. "We'll clear out these fighters for you." casually he aimed the plasma casters at an oncoming starfighter and let loose, blasting it apart with two shots and insane precision. One had torn off a wing, and the second had blown the cockpit to smithereens.

"You're gonna need to hurry up, our shields can't hold them off much longer." the woman paused, and Trip could hear the distinctive electronic sound of laser gun fire before it was cut out by static. Quickly, Hestia adjusted settings until her and Trip could hear the woman's voice clearly again. "-take them all out."

"We're on it." said Trip, Hestia patching out of the channel. "Alright Hestia, take the wheel!"

With that, Hestia took control of the ship, speedily navigating around the oncoming fighters. There were about twenty of the pirate fighters - an overwhelming number for your average ship to deal with. Luckily, the Blue Bullet was no average ship.

It danced through the sky, it's wide wings spinning to avoid fire. Whenever a burst got close Hestia would navigate around it, getting to a position where Trip could turn a ship to scrap metal with returning plasma caster fire. It was with this method they had managed to take out a good half of the enemy forces

"This is a piece of cake!" Trip smiled as he squeezed the triggers again, taking out two ships at once. "It's like these guys aren't trying… no need for the secret weapon, huh?"

"Doesn't seem like it." replied Hestia. "Hold onto your seat…" she did a sudden 360, twirling around three ships at once. They all crashed together, creating a massive fireball.

Trip whooped. "Oh, that was sick!"

"Why, thank you. And it seems that was the last of them… shall we move in to help out the transport ship?"

"Not yet, Hestia…" he stared out, spying the small pirate capital ship. It hadn't moved an inch. Must be vacant. "Scan for shields on that ship."

"Don't tell me you want to take that one down."

"Come on, it'll be fun! I've only got three capital ships under my belt, a real vagabond should be taking those out all the time."

Hestia shook her head. "Well, seems like there's no shields on it… but is this really necessary?"

Trip stopped listening at but. "Alright!" Trip grinned wide, slamming his hand down on a blue button. Crackling blades of blue energy sprung to life around the edges of the ship's wings. "Let's turn that thing into ribbons… Shredder Mode!"

The kid took control of the ship from Hestia, despite her loudly-voiced reservations. "This isn't necessary! This really isn't necessary!" He sent it in a head-on dive at the capital ship, seeing two compartments on the ship slide open. Twin missile launcher arrays emerged from within.

"Automatic defenses? Alright then." the missiles blasted off, but Trip didn't let off, the Blue Bullet still hurtling towards the capital ship at top speed. Plasma energy ran off of the wings' energy blades, creating two streaks of blue in the air.

At the last possible instant, Trip hit another button. "Blender Mode!" the ship's wings snapped into a strange position - one facing up, one facing down, the bright blue energy blades still glowing. Suddenly, they began to spin like a fan, becoming a blur of blue energy and steel. It was a truly ridiculous sight… but it was one to behold, slicing up the onslaught of missiles, turning them into tiny pieces which burst into miniature explosions, too tiny to damage the sturdy Blue Bullet.

The blades stopped spinning and rotated back to their standard positions, just in time for Trip to spin the Bullet at a 90 degree angle right before it hit the surface of the pirate's capital ship. The energy blades slashing straight through the ship's steel defenses, Trip carving a circle into the ship before flying off. It promptly exploded into a billion pieces.

"Oh yeah!" passing control back to his AI assistant, Trip got up to stretch. He was laughing, trying to catch his breath. "Woo… you gotta admit it Hestia… that was so sick."

"I suppose so."

"Patch into that comm channel again and tell them their pirate problem's dealt with. They're free to send the eighteen hundred thousand whenever they like."

The woman's accented voice sounded over the ship's speakers. "Damn…" she said. Trip smiled as he got back in his seat. She sounded so impressed! "Well, looks like you did it. But those pirates got in the ship too, and they've got a whole swarm of attack robots."

"Sounds serious!"

"It is serious. We'll be opening up a hatch for you to fly into soon, and we'll be getting ready when you arrive."

Trip nodded. "Alright then, we'll be right there." as Hestia patched out of the channel, the boy leaned back in his seat. "Ahhh… you smell that, Hestia?"

"Well, I'm not equipped with olfactory sensors."

"That's the smell of cold, hard cash!" he rubbed his hands together. "Oh, I can almost taste it…"

The Blue Bullet landed in a roomy docking bay. One wing shifted to form a ramp, Trip heading out of it. Trip slid down to the ground, spying a group of about six or so Silverguards, busy gearing up. He had his pistol in his hoster and strapped to his left wrist was a metal bracer, equipped with several gadgets and a hologram projector for Hestia, who had loaded herself into the device.

"Greetings!" he shouted out. "Cleared out those starfighters for you, ready to do the same for those robots."

"Nice job." said one of the Silverguards, who was busy getting ready. His horselike head - he was of an odd equine species - turned towards the new arrival. "I'm Mucho. Why don't you take a seat on that bench right there while we finish preparations?"

Trip plopped himself down next to a big human guy with a lazy eye and tons of tattoos. He cleared his throat. "So, I'm Trip."

"They call me... Pear." replied the Silverguard, his voice intense.

"... why do they call you Pear?" Hestia asked.

The man turned, grabbing a helmet from a box that laid at his feet. It was armored with the same silvery, reflective metal that coated all other Silverguard armor. "Ya don't wanna know." he said, strapping it onto his head.

Suddenly, Trip raised his bracer up to his mouth, whispering into it. "Bet they call her 'Peach.'" he nodded his head at a dark-skinned human woman, who stood across the room loading up a shotgun. She was bent over, digging through a crate for more ammo. With her skintight black bodysuit, this made for a nice view. "Man, I normally hate these Silverguard guys, but I think I can make an exception just for her."

The AI groaned. "Trip, just… please shut up."

He was already rehearsing lines in his head. After scraping up enough courage, he walked up to her, right as she was beginning to put on her armor. The segmented chrome pieces magnetically attached to nodes within her bodysuit.

"Hey." Trip said, coolly propping himself up against a wall as he finished up burning what he was about to say into his memory. He was going to use the classic "boyfriend material" line, but at the last minute had switched it.

She shot him a disinterested glance. "Hello." that accented voice… must be the same cutie that had given them access to the Silverguard comm channels. Rhonda, was it? The woman grabbed a greave from a crate next to her and affixed it to one of her legs, giving Trip a good excuse to look at them.

"So… that guy's called Mucho, that guy's called Pear…" he nodded at each member of the crew, Rhonda's icy blue eyes fixing onto him like a laser sight as she holstered a stun ray at her hip. "So what do they call you? Besides beautiful, I mean."

Her mouth bent from a neutral expression to an unamused scowl. She reached into the crate, pulling out a helmet. Trip could see it was marked with a red line over one eye - a special modification only made to the helmets of high-ranking warriors. She stood up tall, pulling the helmet on over her long, shiny black curls to finish off her heavy suit of armor.

"Usually they call me captain." run through the helmet's filter, her already stern voice was pitched deep. "And you are called desperate, I presume?"

Before Trip could stammer out or even think up a response, she had already walked away and was ordering around the other Silverguards. He heard Hestia snicker, her smirking avatar popping up on his bracer.

"A swing and a miss, huh?" Hestia said tauntingly. Trip just tried to ignore her, pretending that he hadn't heard her.

"Shut it, man."

"Aww, is someone upset?" Hestia smiled, her voice dripping with mock sincerity. "Maybe you should've gone with the 'boyfriend material' line, you know, the one where you grab your shirt and-"

Trip snapped. "I swear, if you don't shut it, I'll take your code, put it on a flash drive, and go to one of those Azaxian porn sites with all the weird popup ads. And if they ask me to download anything, I'll hit yes, and then those viruses are going straight to that same flash drive. It'll kill you, and it'll be slow, and it'll be porn-induced." he jabbed a finger at her holographic avatar. "Is that really how you want to die?"

"Oh, I'm sure you'll go on those Azaxian porn sites either way…"

Trip was about to respond, but heard the captain call out. "Alright everybody, drop the charade." the kid perked up at the sound, fear running through him like a jolt.

Charade? When did they start playing charades?

The five other Silverguards began to get into position, weapons at the ready. Trip looked over to see them all staring straight at him.

"Huh?" the realization hit him like a semi truck to the face. "Aw, crap."

"Alright, alright, what's going on here?!" Hestia shouted, projecting her voice so that the whole group of Silverguards could hear her despite the small size of the speaker on Trip's bracer.

Trip hastily put his hand over the bracer, closing out the sound. "Shut it! Can't you see? It was a trap, we were being tricked the whole time!" he whispered forcefully, ruminating on the events that lead him to this point.

It was all so obvious in hindsight. Those starfighters, the ones that sucked? They must've been drones controlled by crappy Silverguard tech, and that capital ship too. Probably set up to not only draw Trip in, but analyze the Blue Bullet as well to tell if it was really him. The camera feeds he had been able to access, they were set up with the starfighter drones, it was deliberately rigged to look like an ambush! Quite the clever trap.

Unfortunately, Trip wasn't the clever person who had set it. He was the dumb schmuck who had stumbled into it.

"Two months ago, we got a report from a garbage dump planet named Yerolious." Captain Rhonda said, grinning venomously beneath her helmet. "Stolen ship. An Otorian vessel, shaped like a bullet, with wide wings. A common consumer vehicle, taken from an Otorian geologist couple during their brief excursion to the planet in order to collect soil samples." She moved in close to Trip, who was trying with all his might to hold back sweat. "Any of this ring a bell?"

He said nothing.

"Around the same time… just a week or two after, actually… we get a few reports here and there about a blue-painted Otorian ship with heavy modifications. Plasma casters, laser turrets, wing mounted energy blades… possibly up to illegal activity… sounds familiar?"

He said nothing.

"And you know what we find out, when we talk about and go over these reports? About how much the pilot, some scraggly red haired kid, looks a whole lot like some other scraggly red haired kid we have on file."

Rhonda raised up her arm to reveal a specialized tech gauntlet, similar to Trip's bracer. She pressed a button on it, causing a holographic picture to materialize above it. It rotated slowly, and Trip was shocked to see that it was him, but three years younger.

Just as old he would be around the time those Silverguard pricks had taken his sister, forcing him to move to that dump called Yerolious.

"Tomas Knight, is it? The last member of the Knight Syndicate we haven't gotten our hands on? Would that be you?"

He said something. "Don't call me that!"

Trip leapt at her, aiming a sucker punch at her jaw. Before his fist could land, Rhonda had already thrown her fist into his gut, blowing the air out of him and knocking him to the ground. Trip winced. Crap, did that hurt. The Silverguard reached to her waist, drawing her stun ray and pointing it at him.

"Pick a door, Tomas." her finger was on the trigger. It wouldn't kill him, but it would definitely knock him out... probably sting like a bitch, too. "Door A: come with us, turn yourself in, and maybe you get to see your sister in prison. Door B: Try to fight back, and get turned into a smoking puddle of pulp."

Door A didn't seem appealing. Door B especially so. So, he decided to just not open a door and ran away from them both, scrambling to his feet and dashing towards the Blue Bullet.

"Big mistake!" she cried, squeezing the trigger. At the last second Trip changed course, avoiding the red blast that had shot out from the stun ray. He spun into a doorway, rushing into the corridors of the Silverguard ship.

The five Silverguards began to make their way towards the kid, but Rhonda gestured for them to stop. "Let's give him a head start. He'll need it." she turned around to face them. "All of you, switch to stun weapons."

Trip panted, forcing himself to run as fast as his legs could take him. Sweat ran down his forehead as he tried to put distance between himself and his six pursuers.

"Behind you, Trip!" Hestia shouted.

Trip glanced back, seeing that they were gaining on him, stun rays identical to the one Rhonda had fired at him with in each of their hands. Red bolts of energy began to fly towards him, causing him to yelp and push himself even further.

"Crap crap crap!" pops sounded out as the staticy projectiles struck the ground near him, creating small bursts of red light. One got really close, causing him to fall over in shock. He struggled to get to his feet, but the blasts kept coming and coming, striking him in the back and legs and head, sending waves of electricity through his body. Still, he desperately tried to crawl away, even as his vision began to fade to black...

When he came to, Trip found himself being lugged through dimly lit corridors by two Silverguards, the horse-headed Mucho and the big one called Pear. Ugh… where was he? It looked to be in the ship's brig, a cramped place, walls lined with cells. Some of them actually included other prisoners, who pounded on their cell's red forcefield walls at the sight of the Silverguards. They shouted in unfamiliar languages, Trip nervously trying to ignore them. Rhonda was walking behind him, a crate in her hands. Trip couldn't see what was in it, but from the panicked sound of Hestia's yells, it was clear that the crate contained the bracer she was stored on, along with his gun, belt and jacket, all of which were missing from his person.

They stopped at a cell, which faced an alcove with a countertop. As Rhonda plopped the crate of his belongings down onto it, Mucho deactivated the cell's forcefield with few taps on his tech gauntlet and Pear tossed him inside. The forcefield reappeared, trapping him inside the cell. Dusting himself off, Trip looked around at these new surroundings, seeing that there was little but a bucket in there with him. No guesses what it was for.

"Have fun in there, Tomas." Rhonda began to stroll away, the two Silverguards she brought with her following. "You'll be seeing your sister soon!" she called out.

"You made that joke already!" Trip heard a mechanized door slide open, then close just as quickly. He pulled his legs close to his chest and groaned.

"Hestia?" Trip looked over at her. Hestia's holographic avatar stared at him, barely able to peek over the edge of the crate. "Why don't I ever meet any nice girls? She was so cute, and-"

"Seriously? You just got thrown in a cell and that's what you're thinking about?" she shouted. In a quieter volume, she tacked on a few more words."And besides, you met me."

Trip threw his head back, laying down on the cold cell floor. "Yeah, don't remind me…"

Hestia shook her head, letting out a sigh of exasperation. "You are a real… why aren't you more worried right now?!"

"Oh believe me, I am." The kid sat up. "But we've still got our secret weapon, right?"

The AI's took on a concerned tone. "You really want to break him out right now? Think of the damage he can cause..."

"Well, what other options are there? Come on, open up communications with the Blue Bullet!"

There was a pause. Trip could hear Hestia call out, having patched into the Bullet's comm systems.

"I called…" Hestia said. "But I didn't get any response."

Trip nodded. "Well, that can only mean two things. Either he slept through the call, or," he smiled. "Those Silverguard jerks already woke him up."

Before Rhonda had left the docking bay, she had ordered three Silverguards to enter and investigate his ship, to check for any weapons or bombs left onboard. So, they climbed up the wing and hopped in the door, looking around.

What they found would be expected of what amounted to an eighteen year old's bedroom. Shag carpeting covered the floor of every part of the ship besides the kitchen, dirty clothes were littered about, and posters of action movies and scantily clad women covered the walls and ceiling. Rigged up around the ship were specialized machines made for displaying holograms, presumably built for that AI he had been talking to. At the back of the ship were two doors, one of which lead to what seemed to be a personal quarters free of any hologram projectors. There was a movie paused on the wide flat screen TV that hung on the wall opposite the disheveled bed - some old Earth action flick. The second door lead to a small room with a ladder, and that lead to a lower level of the Blue Bullet.

Two of the Silverguards headed down, one staying up to give the top level a more thorough inspection.

The bottom part of the ship had a low ceiling and, aside from a small bathroom, was a singular room filled with machinery. This had to be the engine room, though from the bits of tech, vials of chemicals, and construction tools that also occupied the space it appeared to serve another purpose; Trip's lab. The place was dark, forcing the Silverguards to turn on shoulder mounted flashlights just to see what they were doing.

"Hey. Look at these."

Strange remnants of experiments were pushed away into a corner. They seemed to be variations on robotic androids - female ones, parts of their bodies covered with blue, synthetic flesh. Uncovered areas revealed the metal framework and wires beneath. Several half-built hologram projectors were propped up against them.

"Think the kid was trying to make… y'know, that kinda robot?" the Silverguard asked his comrade.

"Probably." he replied. "You saw how he acted around the Captain." the man kicked at one of the robots, causing it to slump over. "And hey, if I knew how to make robots when I was eighteen, that's probably the first thing I'd do."

They both heard the final member of their group call out from above. "Guys, there's… there's someone else on board!" he sounded fearful, frantic. The Silverguards rushed up the ladder to see that blankets had been tossed around the ship, the last Silverguard shakily aiming his laser rifle at a strange creature which was standing on a dog bed.

It looked like a human, but completely hairless, with smooth, rubbery, gray-white skin, a heavy ridge where it's eyebrows would be, and beady, all-black eyes that scanned the three unfamiliar men. It's nose was little more than two slits on its face, and it had no visible ears. The thing was only two and a half, maybe three feet tall, but it had a long tail that flicked up and down, like the tongue of a snake, like it had a mind of its own. In the center of it's forehead was a shiny black orb, and the only clothes it wore were adorable little black boots, matching gloves, and baggy shorts.

"What the hell is that thing?" one of the Silverguards looked around at the others. "I've never seen anything like it!"

"It just woke up!" shouted the Silverguard who had first seen it. "It was in that bed thing." that explained the blankets that were everywhere.

"Maybe it's the guy's pet?"

Suddenly, the creature made a strange grunting-snorting noise. "Where does Daddy?" it spoke clumsily, every syllable forced out like it was a struggle.

"... or his... child?" he said quizzically.

It took a few steps forward, the two Silverguards without their guns at the ready pulling them out. "Hey, little guy…" one of them said, trying as hard as he could to not sound on edge. "You alright?"

They got no response, the creature staring at them blankly.

'What's your name, buddy?"

It looked around, confused.

"What. Is. Your. Name?" he said it again, slowing himself down.

The creature still looked and acted like he was out of it. "Does you talk to me?"

The Silverguard shook his head in exasperation. "Yeesh… yeah, you, what's your name?"

Line shook his head, mimicking the man. "Name does… Line. Where does Daddy?"

"What's your dad look like, kid?"

"Bigger than me. Red hair. On the head." Line patted his bald scalp.

The Silverguards looked at around at one another. Looks like it was his kid after all. This was gonna be tough. One of them put away his gun and crouched down, slowly approaching the creature. He stretched out an arm towards him. Though he stepped back at first, Line slowly took a few steps towards the man. Awkwardly, he patted the creatures shoulder a bit.

"Can one of you guys go alert the rest of the crew?" he looked back at them, one nodding and rushing to the exit. He turned back to Line, sighed, and took off his helmet. "Um… this might be hard to understand, but… your dad's in our ship's brig right now. We have to take him to jail."

It's eyebrow ridge furrowed. "Why?"

"Well… your dad was a bad man, and he stole a spaceship."

"No!" Line was getting angry, the man backing up and reaching. "No… Daddy does not bad… you does bad!"

Before he could get another word out, the man was abruptly thrown back by a crackling burst of purple energy, flying into a wall. He slammed into it, falling to the ground in other Silverguard leapt back in shock, seeing that the creature's eyes and forehead gem were glowing bright purple. Suddenly, it looked at him, and sneered - well, best it could without a nose.

"Go away!" the glow faded from his eyes and orb as he punctuated each of his words with an angry stomp. "No like you… me no like you!"

Opening fire with his laser rifle, the Silverguard sent shot after shot at Line while moving backwards towards the Bullet's exit. He had to get out of here! Unluckily for him, the creature was unaffected by the blasts, not even flinching as they hit his unprotected skin, slowly advancing towards the man with his fists clenched.

The Silverguard he had hit with the energy burst was stirring now, and quickly got back on his feet. He rushed towards Line, drawing a baton, but was grabbed by the leg with Line's long tail and flung like a ragdoll at his comrade. Suddenly the purple glow returned, Line beginning to hover in the air.

"You leave ship… now!"

Back in the docking bay, the Silverguard who had left was just now returning with a few more Silverguards.

"God, you guys have got to see this thing!" he was gesticulating wildly as he described what he has seen to his fellow Silverguards. "It's like, all gray and stuff, and it says that a human prisoner is it's dad!"

"Maybe it was adopted?" one of them asked.

"I wouldn't be so sure." another chimed in. "Half-breeds can get real weird lookin'."

Suddenly, a massive flash of purple light burst out from the open door of the Blue Bullet, the ship rocking from the force. Two Silverguards soared out, screaming as they hurtled towards the floor below.

The crew backed up as Line flew into the docking bay, hovering in the air and looking around at his surroundings.

The brig. The man said that daddy was in the brig. Was this the brig? Daddy wasn't here. So probably not. There were more silver guys though. Maybe they knew where the brig was.

"It's that… that thing!" the Silverguard who had left pointed at Line. From the purple glow that emitted from the creature, it was clear that

"Open fire!" another shouted out. At the cue, the Silverguards took out their guns and began to shoot.

Just as before, the laser blasts proved useless against Line. He ignored them and flew to the ground, walking up to the puzzled group of Silverguards.

"Hi." the blasts didn't stop even as he talked to them. "Where does brig?" no response. He began to get tired, gritting his teeth as he blasted back with purple lightning from his head orb. The entire group of Silverguard was hit by the explosion of energy, all of them launched through the air. Line walked up to one of the prone Silverguards, whose helmet was knocked off by the energy attack. Lifting them up by the throat, the creature's glowing eyes met their terrified gaze.

"Hi." he felt them struggle, and tightened his grip on their neck. "Where does brig?"

Trip tapped his foot, propped up against the wall of the cell with his arms crossed. His eyes were focused squarely on the floor, deep in thought.

Suddenly, he broke the silence. "Hestia, can you do me a favor?"


"Turn around, I gotta take a piss."

Suddenly, the wall behind him was ripped apart, a dust cloud along with large chunks of steel tossed around the cell. Trip tumbled over, knocked back by the explosion. Purple energy sizzled around the edge of the hole in the wall. Line was standing in the middle of it, floating in to meet the kid he called his dad.

Trip shook off the dust and rubble that had landed on him, coughing and rising to shaky footing. Then, he began to laugh, hugging the grey creature that had just blown a hole in the wall of his cell. "That's my boy!"

"Daddy." Line nuzzled his head into Trip's shoulder, before pulling his head away. "Where does the blue lady?"

"I'm right here!" she called out. "Trip, do you think Line can get through that forcefield?"

He let out an unsure mumble, releasing Line from his arms. "Only one way to find out. Line, give that forcefield everything you've got!" the creature nodded, turning to the red-tinted barrier. A beam of purple energy shot out from his orb, drilling against the forcefield.

Trip watched with a smile. But then he heard a sound. Footsteps, coming from behind. He turned his head, spotting a crew of Silverguards through the hole in the wall. Guns at the ready.

"The thing's right there!" one of them cried out.

"Oh no." Trip instinctively reached to his hip for his pistol, but remembered it wasn't there. So, he swiftly dropped to the ground, grabbing a big piece of rubble and lifting it up to shield himself from the sudden flurry of laser shots that rained down on him and his pet. "Keep going!" he shouted at Line, who had spun around at the sensation of laser blasts striking him. Line nodded, returning to firing on the prison cell's forcefield.

Soon enough, Line's energy beam had worn down the barrier, letting Trip jump through it. He grabbed the box of his stuff and ran away. Frantically, he began to put on his jacket and belt, holstering his gun and strapping back on his bracer. "Crush 'em then meet up with me, Line!"

Reaching the mechanized door, he saw that there was a black panel on the wall. Looked like there were ports on it too, ones he could make use of with the tech interfacing gear he had implemented into his bracer. Trip looked back, seeing the other prisoners in their cells staring at him.

He aimed his bracer at the wall, hitting a button. A wire launched from the end of it, plugging into one of the ports on the panel. "Hestia, help me out here… we gotta break their defenses."

"On it!"

In a few minutes, the two had managed to bust through the Silverguard's protection programs. Trip brought up maps of the ship, downloading the images to his bracer, and then brought up the screen that let a Silverguard with the proper permissions unlock cells in the brig. Trip unlocked every single one.

"Wait, this is what you were aiming for?" Hestia asked. "Why are you letting them free?"

"A distraction is always useful, Hestia."

Cautiously, the prisoners began to step out of their cells, looking around. Trip grinned at them, before opening up the door that lead out of the brig. "You're welcome!" he retracted the wire and stepped out, but bumped into the chest of a familiar looking Silverguard. It was Rhonda, and she had a whole army behind her. She looked at him, and then at the prisoners behind him.

"You…" pure fury coursed through those three letters. Trip was unfazed, kneeing her in the groin before booking it down the hallway, whooping and laughing uncontrollably. The breath was knocked from Rhonda's lungs by the painful blow, but she hurriedly got herself back together, growling. "Get that kid!" she roared.

The horde of prisoners roared back. And then, they charged. The Silverguard met them with force. It was chaos.

As the prisoners and Silverguard duked it out in the cramped hallway, Trip had already entered his cell and was now hopping out of the hole Line had made. He found himself in an unfamiliar chamber filled with unconscious Silverguard - his pet had obviously done a number on them. With the maps he had stolen, however, he was able to find his way out of this place and navigate through the ship with relative ease.

With that map at his disposal it wasn't difficult for him to chart a course that lead him mostly through empty back rooms. However, he soon found that it would be impossible to get to the Bullet without a fight; Rhonda had come over the intercom and ordered all Silverguard to report to the docking bay. Smart move, he thought, since that was his only way out. Luckily, he was one step ahead of her.

"What are you gonna do, Trip?" Hestia asked. "You're one guy, and you can't fight off all of them. Not even Line could do that. So what's the plan?"

Trip crouched and approached the corner of the room. On the wall was an air duct cover.

Thinking for a bit, he pulled out his pistol. "You ever go on that site, TV Tropes? The one where they catalog all the trends you see in movies and video games and television shows?" he brought up the schematics for the ship's ventilation systems on his bracer, speedily plotting a course to the docking bay in his head and memorizing it just as fast. Then he turned again to his pistol, spinning it over in his hand. Like every bit of tech he used, it was heavily modified and personalized, and wired onto the side was a small, calculator-like number pad, along with a analog display.

"Can't say I've heard of it, Trip." he hit the numbers one and eight on his guns number pad, then hit the enter button. Text flashed on the display, which read: 18 SCREW. Instantly, a screwdriver's end shot out from the barrel of the gun. He got closer to the cover, eyeing it up.

"You know how, like, when a character in a movie is locked in a room with a bed, and they use the blankets and the sheets and tie 'em into a rope and then throw it out the window, that thing?" as he spoke, Trip lined up the head of the screwdriver with the head of one of the screws that held the cover to the wall, pulling the gun's trigger. The screwdriver began to spin, quickly removing the screw.

Hestia nodded along. "Uh huh?" he removed another screw, it dropping to the ground and rolling off.

"Well, that's called a trope, and the guys over on that site TV Tropes call it the 'Bedsheet Ladder.' They've got hundreds, maybe even thousands of those trope thingies on that site, all catalogued and listed in categories and stuff." while he talked he was able to get another screw out.

"Yeah, virgins on the internet can truly accomplish great things." Hestia's reply was soaked in snark. "How does this relate to getting out of here without getting shot in the head?"

"Well, they've got a trope on there, called 'Air-Vent Passageway.' It's a real classic."

With a final readjustment of the screwdriver and pull of the trigger, the last screw was removed, the cover dropping off with it, a dull thud sounding out as it hit the metal floor.

He turned to look at her. "We're gonna go through the air vents, is what I'm saying."

"Wouldn't it have been easier to just say that?"

"Pretty much, yeah." he turned back to his gun. "Alright, now to switch the old MFG-9000 back to blaster mode…" he typed in a zero, then another, hit enter and holstered the gun.

"Wait." said Hestia. "Wouldn't it have also been easier to just blast the cover off of the air vent?"

Trip rolled the idea around in his head, nodding as he spoke. "Well, I mean… I built a screwdriver into this thing, might as well use it, y'know?"

With a laser shot, Trip blew off the air duct cover and dropped into the docking bay from above, conveniently landing right on top of the Blue Bullet.

"See how much easier that is?"

"Shut it, lady." as Hestia rolled her eyes, Trip used his to survey his surroundings. Just like the brig, the room was currently in a state of disarray, Line flying in circles above a crowd of Silverguards who were desperately trying to shoot him out of the air before he shot them. Seemed like he had gotten there first, and the Silverguards had decided to focus on the more immediate threat - if Line hadn't arrived earlier, the Blue Bullet would've been long destroyed. It seems like they did fire at it some, however; there were scorch marks on the side. Trip sighed. Well, he was due to touch up the paint job anyways.

Trip fired a few shots into the air, drawing the attention of both Line and the huge crowd of Silverguard. "Line! Hop in, buddy!"

"Daddy!" just as Trip had leapt inside the ship, Line flew inside, perching himself on the kid's shoulders. He took a seat at the controls, plugging his bracer into a pull-out compartment and shutting it closed. Hestia was back on the ship, and shut the doors before creating a holographic avatar for herself on top of the console.

The Blue Bullet was back in action, shield systems springing to life just in time to block a barrage of blaster fire from the Silverguard below. There was only one issue; they were low on fuel.

"Crap!" Trip scooted his chair over to the weapon control and began to open fire on the crowd. "We're gonna have to power down non-essential systems… Hestia, hit the lights, and turn off the air conditioning… also, turn off the TV in my room, I think I still have Die Hard 2 paused on it. But save the time where I'm paused first!"

"On it." the ship went dark, the only thing lighting up the room being the buttons on the various computer consoles. While Hestia was finding out what other systems could be safely shut off, Trip began to get the ship in the air, retracting the landing gear, unfolding the wings, and finally, jetting it towards the exit. But right before the ship could escape, a red light covered up the normally blue glow of the open hatch; a forcefield had just been activated.

Trip groaned. "They have to make everything difficult, don't they?" he hit a button to open a door on the ship, another to deactivate the shield, and looked back at Line. "Hey buddy, remember when you did the laser thingy with the forcefield? Could you maybe try that again for me?"

"Ok, Daddy!" Line flew out of the open door, Trip closing it and putting the shields back up as soon as the creature had left. He could breathe just fine in space, so Trip didn't have to worry about him dying of a lack of oxygen out there.

While Line began the process of tearing a hole in the forcefield, Trip leaned back and took a deep breath. Then he ran to the bathroom, and took that piss he had been waiting to take. When he was done, Line was done too, so that was convenient. He took a seat at the controls once more, speeding out through the hole in the barrier. Staring out the window, he laughed at the Silverguards, whose laser blasts burst uselessly against their own forcefield.

But he wasn't done yet. No, Trip spun back around, and gunned it towards the ship. "Here we go…" he slammed a button on the console. "Shredder Mode!"

The wing mounted energy blades sparked to life just in time, slashing into the Silverguard's ship. Quickly but deliberately, Trip carved in a message, explosions following the blade as it sliced through the ship's metal. He listed off each letter to himself as he carved it in; "N... I... C..." When he was done writing and sure that the ship was too damaged to go anywhere, he took off

"We don't have enough power for a warp jump… any ideas?" Hestia asked.

"We're near the Sanada system, right?" Trip asked. "Should be a warp ring nearby. Let's head for that." warp rings were a form of public transportation devices that let a ship perform a warp jump without having to worry about the heavy fuel cost, at the price of having to use a government issued card. Trip, like any rogue worth his salt, had a bootleg one that worked just as good.

Suddenly, something knocked against the viewport. Both of them looked to see Line, tapping on the glass like a cat scratching at the back door, waiting to be let in. Trip let out a chuckle, opening up a hatch on the ship. A glowing blue field kept the air inside as Line flew in, collapsing onto Trip's lap. It was clear that the busy day had exhausted him.

"Space does cold, Daddy." he whimpered. "Space does cold."

Trip lifted him up easily. "Alright, let's get you bundled up, then…" as he began to collect his blankets and roll up Line an alien burrito, he issued an order to Hestia. "Start flying towards the warp ring. We should get out of here before they send out starfighters, or something."

"Already on it, Trip." the kid slumped back in his seat, taking a deep breath. God, that was a whole lot of fun - just the kind of action that got his blood flowing. It was a pretty good warm up for the day, he had to admit.

"Hey, Hestia... after we get some fuel, can we take that mission with the irradiated ants?"

"I think I've had enough for one day..."

"Aw, come on!" he sat up straight. "It's just getting started."

A hour later and the Silverguard were still combing the Sanada system for any sign of the Blue Bullet or the three individuals who made up it's crew. At the head of the ruined ship was Captain Rhonda. With each report about the difficult rounding up of the jail-bound prisoners that had been freed from their cells, or the terrible status of the ship's systems, or the seemingly aimless hunt for the jerks who had caused the whole mess, she got angrier. It culminated when some rookie came up to her office snickering about something.

"Hey, uh… we were surveying the ship from outside, to assess the damage." he held back a laugh. "When that guy-"

"Tomas Knight?"

"Yeah, him, when he left, heh… he carved a message for you on top of the ship."

She eyed him. "Well? What's it say?"

The man seemed to go from amused to sheepish in a second. "Um, well… you should see for yourself." with that, he rushed out of her chamber.

Rhonda snorted, turning back to some file work. A few minutes in, she tossed it aside in frustration. She needed to know what that message said. So, she made her way to the same docking bay the Bullet had escaped from and hopped in her personal shuttle - one of the only ships on board. The Captain flew out of the hatch, navigating her way to a position where she could see the top of the ship.

Sure enough, in the smooth, reflective metal of the ship's surface, there was a message, carved deep into it. It was the work of those energy blades on the Bullet's wings, no doubt. Her cold blue eyes scanned it, and she read it aloud to herself, growing more and more enraged with each and every perfect cursive letter.

"Nice ass, beautiful?! PS… call me?!" her hands gripped the steering controls on her ship tightly, her teeth gritting, her veins bulging out. She couldn't hold herself back as she slammed her fists onto her control panel repeatedly, yelling out curses. Slowly, she managed to compose herself.

Rhonda began to pilot her shuttle back to the larger ship below. "I swear…" she whispered to herself. "I will find that immature, overcompensating, pathetic, desperate little piece of garbage and turn him into a little red smear… a little red smear… Tomas Knight needs to watch out..."